Alessandra Bailo had been gone for three days. In
that time, she had returned to her homeship, Jubilee,
and asked that the unused medical equipment be loaded
into her ship to be taken back to New Alderaan. After
pleading her case, which took far longer than the old
Ithorian had liked, she received the equipment and made
her way back to New Alderaan. There, the Rebels unloaded
the equipment and used it to strengthen their makeshift
medical center. Doctor Bailo was pleased with these
improvements. The people of New Aldera needed help too.
It didn't matter whose ‘side' they were on, Alessandra
wanted to help.
It seemed like the Ithorian was finally getting a
chance to catch her breath. She sat in the gazebo behind
Iyah Xergo and Mug Zoran's home drinking tea. Her mood
had improved significantly since arriving. She thought
New Aldera was a beautiful place. The skies had yet to
be touched with pollution, and nature was alive all
around them. She could hear birds singing while she
relaxed. "It's wonderful here, isn't it?" Alessandra
asked her companion.
Doctor Pilaq Tohan was wearing a canvas hat, with a
wide brim, to keep the sun out of his face as he dug in
the garden. "Did you ever visit old Alderaan?" he called
to her, as he gently placed the seedlings into the small
hole he had dug. He knew that the plants and vegetables
he planted today would long outlast him and that gave
him some semblance of hope for the future. "It is on the
way to wonderful, but will require a great deal of
effort from the people here," he said, as he carefully
lay the soil over the now filled hole. "And a bit of
luck and good fortune that the Empire does not learn of
its existence," he said, with a tired and anxious sigh.
He had seen so much death and pain in recent years, but
nothing compared to the destruction of an entire planet.
She rose from the gazebo slowly. Without the young
Callista, it was so quiet around Mug and Iyah's home.
She heard that Callista was serving the King of Skor II.
Alessandra had not been on New Alderaan when the Squibs
came to collect on Callista's deal, but she had heard
many stories. Carefully, Alessandra squatted down beside
Pilaq to look at his garden. She placed a hand on his
shoulder. There was much to be worried about for this
settlement. The Empire had destroyed Alderaan in a
heartbeat. Without a doubt, they would do it again to
this sacred place. "It is good that there are people
like Jelena Rodney to sow their own seeds. I visited
Alderaan many times throughout the years. It was a
beautiful planet as well... It is such a shame..." She
hung her head, shaking it slowly. No sooner had she
began to feel sad did her comlink begin to beep. "Oh my.
What could that be?" She stood upright and made her way
over to it with growing worry. "It is Marcus Rodney."
Pilaq blinked his large, bulbous eyes when Alessandra
informed him that Marcus Rodney was attempting to reach
them. "I hope something has not happened to the twins
... *again*," he said, with a level of concern. "Well,
delaying bad news does not mean the bad news does not
exist," he informed her, before nodding his head to her.
"Answer it," he told her, before murmuring softly from
both of his mouths. It seemed the events surrounding the
House of Rodney never ceased.
After the comm was activated there was a brief sound
of static before the voice of Duke Marcus Rodney was
heard. "Doctor Tohan? Doctor Bailo? This is Marcus
Rodney," he informed them, not sounding entirely
himself, as he had only recently been delivered some
*very* unexpected news. "I need you to come to Delaya,
or we need to come to New Alderaan. Zara is in need of a
checkup," he told them, but went into no greater detail.
He was remarkably cryptic, as he did not want to reveal
he assumed Zara was pregnant simply because his Squib
niece smelled something.
Alessandra answered the call a second later. Her
worries first centered on the twins. "Hello?" It was
hard to hear him at first. After spending some time
around the royal family surrounding the birth of the
twins, she felt that Marcus didn't sound as chipper as
usual. She began to fear for the worst. "We are both
here." She told him calmly. Her eyes fell. Something was
wrong with Zara? The last time she had seen the Duchess,
Alessandra had verified that she was suffering from a
concussion. "Ohno." She gasped with both of her mouths.
"We will be there immediately, milord." She promised,
forgetting to turn off the comm as she fumbled to stand
back up on two feet. "It's Zara. I worry for her. After
she and Marcus returned with their daughter, they were
both injured." She explained to Pilaq, offering him her
hands to help him up. "The Duchess had suffered from
some head injuries." Sadly, Marcus hadn't provided them
with additional details. All they could do was worry
that the hammer had fallen down on the House of Rodney
"Hmm," Pilaq murmured, as he considered what the best
course of action was. He, too, was concerned for the
wellbeing of Zara. Despite her youth she was already a
parent to two children, but was repeatedly suffering
from strange industries. He had known Marcus Rodney most
of his life, and never believed him to be a violent man,
so he doubted it was domestic violence. Still, there was
something in Marcus' voice that led him to believe that
there was more information than had been revealed to
them. "We must go to Delaya and see to her, but ... on
the ground floor," he informed Alessandra, as he began
to collect his things. "Duchess or no Duchess I will not
ascend the staircase again," he said, before slamming
the base of his staff into the ground to emphasize his
"On the ground floor," Alessandra agreed. Pilaq had
been in worse condition after the birth of the twins
than during the ordeal with the Inquisitor aboard Lord
Claudius' ship. It was part of her duties to see to it
that Pilaq was being taken care of properly. Together,
they left Alderaan behind for the Imperial-occupied
"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh!" Duchess Zara
Rodney was seated in the garden in Rodney Castle. "They
should be here soon, Marcus. That'll determine if we're
getting an Auntie Mae's kiosk in the castle or not." The
young Duchess joked. She wore a wide grin on her face.
Nana was still tasked with caring for the children while
she and her husband let their excitement grow past
realistic expectation. "We had lots of fun on our
anniversary. Maybe your troopers were as happy as we
were." Zara commented, glancing away from him towards
the landing pad where she expected the Ithorian doctors
to land. Her smile went even bigger. She couldn't wait
to see the couple that she credited herself with
Marcus Rodney alway wanted to be a father, but until
he met Zara he never believed he would be a good father.
She gave him confidence. She filled his heart with a
love he never before imagined. He felt he had done a
great job since Darrus and Sia had arrived, and had even
learned to change a diaper in an under an hour. When it
was suggested she might be pregnant again he was
surprised, but he was happy. However, after a day with
Callista, Ewwiekewwieikkie, and Melickielickie he was
becoming worn down. As long as a Squib did not emerge
from Zara's womb he would be okay, but if a Squib did
come he would have a bone to pick with the King.
Alessandra Bailo was carrying Doctor Tohan's medical
bag. They were both moving as quickly as they could ...
which wasn't all that fast at all. "At least they agreed
to come to the ground floor." She said. It came as a
relief to see the Duchess. Zara certainly looked better
than the last time she had seen the woman. In fact, Zara
Rodney was absolutely glowing. She wondered why they had
been summoned if she was in such high spirits. "Milord,
milady." She bowed her head as soon as she was close
enough to them. "What seems to be the problem?"
Alessandra looked up and down her slowly. She did not
suspect that Marcus was abusing his wife. He did not
strike her as that kind of man. Doctor Bailo still
opened up the medical bag and prepared to help in any
way she could.
Moving as quickly as quickly as he could was now slow
for the average Ithorian. When he saw that Duchess Zara
looked alright he curled his fingers against his walking
stick and stopped moving. "Hmm," he said, as he looked
towards Doctor Bailo. He knew Zara was both a teenage
girl and a newly minted noblewoman. He could certainly
see her overreacting or feeling entitled to special
treatment, but if this was a hangnail he was going to
get right back on the ship. "Are you alright, milady?"
he asked, hoping that something worthwhile was wrong to
get him out of his garden on New Alderaan and traveling
across the galaxy for concierge medicine.
"Pilaq!" Zara hopped up to her feet quickly. She
wrapped her arms around the old doctor and gave him a
tight squeeze. It was hard to believe that, at one
point, she hadn't been comfortable around him. "I'm
okay, I promise. We needed you to come as soon as
possible because..." Zara began, releasing Pilaq from
her grasp so she could hold her husband's hand. "Ewwiekewwieikkie
says I'm pregnant!" No sooner had Zara declared it to
the Ithorians did she realize how insane she sounded.
"Which, ahem, is crazy business *obviously*..." Zara
thought that Marcus wasn't just a ‘good' father, she
thought he was the *best* father. Each time she saw him
interacting with the twins, it made her melt inside. Of
all the wrong decisions she had made in her life, Marcus
Rodney was the single right decision. She couldn't
imagine what it would be like to have *three* Zarcus
babies running around, as she was already a sucker for
Sia and Darrus. "So I was hoping maybe you could give us
a medical answer. I saw Ewwiekewwieikkie eat like
century old candy today. I think we need a second
Pilaq knew when he was receiving a hug that something
was coming. He unleashed a content groan, taking his
arms and wrapping them around Zara. However, not even
the best of hugs could have prepared him for what was
about to come next. "Ewwiekewwieikkie ... again..." he
said, as he looked towards Doctor Bailo for guidance. He
backed up through the garden until he found a stone
bench to sit upon, using the opportunity to rest and
process the word that he had just heard. "I have never
known her nose to be wrong," he admitted, reluctantly,
as he gave Marcus a 'you should know better' look.
"Doctor Bailo, will you be so kind as to confirm the
Squib's odorific evaluation," he asked of her, as his
fingers curled and then uncurled around his walking
Alessandra's mouths dropped. She could not believe
what she was hearing from the mouth of the teenaged
Duchess. This was not the first time she had heard
someone proclaim that the Squib had confirmed a
pregnancy. She thought of Sierra, Claudius, and their
ever expanding family. After over a decade, it seemed
that fertility had blessed the House of Rodney. "Ooh.."
She grasped Pilaq gently to help him towards the bench.
"Another pregnancy?" She asked in awe. The old Ithorian
flagged down a nearby servant and asked that water be
brought for her companion. "Yes, yes. Let's see if
Ewwiekewwieikkie is right again. . ." She made her way
back over to the Duchess.
Zara had not thought that the news might kill the
family doctor. She had been too happy to consider
anything other than the possibility of a baby. "What do
you mean ‘again'?" She looked nervous for Pilaq. She
never wanted to hurt the old Doctor. Zara removed her
hands from her lap and sat back to give Doctor Bailo the
access she needed. She watched Alessandra find her tool
within the medical bag. "I'm so happy. Marcus is the
best daddy ever. We all love him so much." Especially
Sia. Zara saw the way their baby girl looked at Marcus.
She was a daddy's girl from day one.
"Hmm..." Alessandra bent over the young woman. "Your
sister also came to see us when we were aboard the
Retributor. Ewwiekewwieikkie had claimed another child
was coming...she was correct. It is likely that you are
pregnant too, milady." She turned on the device. For a
full three minutes, she quietly examined the Duchess. At
the end, she turned off the device and smiled. "There is
no doubt, milady. The nose knows. Congratulations."
"Oh how wonderful, Zara. We did it ... *again*!"
Marcus shouted, as he came up behind his wife, placed
one arm on the small of her back, and wrapped the other
one around her. He lowered his head and began to kiss
her cheek and the side of her face. "I love you so
much," he said, before turning his attention to the
doctors. "Thank you for coming," he said, as he extended
a hand gently to Doctor Bailo. Rather than make Doctor
Tohan come to him, he excused himself, briefly, from
Zara's side and moved to the venerable old Ithorian. "A
father for the third time," he said, as he wrapped both
of his arms delicately around the old man.
"Congratulations, milady," Pilaq said to Zara, but as
Marcus came over to him and gave him a hug he considered
his next words carefully. When the hug broke he quickly
moved the head of his walking stick to strike Marcus
directly on the head. "You should let your young wife
get some rest. She has two babies to take care of, but
you cannot keep your hands to yourself. Now she has to
take care of two twins, barely grown, while coping with
another pregnancy. Shame!" he declared, as he shook his
head at the Duke.
Zara could have never guessed that she would learn
that she was pregnant today. Ewwiekewwieikkie had been
so sweet to give her the ice cream for the baby. Doctor
Bailo had confirmed that it was true; another baby was
on the way. Zara had worked herself into such a state of
happiness that it would have been disappointing for the
examination to go any other way. "Marcus!" She squeaked.
Her hands both rested on his arm and squeezed him
tightly. Her head turned to shower him with kisses. "I
love you! Thank you for making more perfect babies with
me." She turned her attention to Doctor Bailo to jabber
all about her new pregnancy, and her wonderful twins.
She could overhear Pilaq ragging on Marcus, which made
her laugh. It wasn't always Marcus who couldn't keep his
hands to himself. Zara loved her intimacy, as evident by
Doctor Bailo worried for the young Duchess, who was
only seventeen now. She saw how happy the couple was. It
reminded her that Zara had an excellent support system.
Despite Marcus' physical condition during the birth of
the twins, he had remained with his wife for every
second of the physically taxing ordeal. They were going
to be okay. She reached out, shaking the Duke's hand.
"Congratulations. I look forward to meeting your next
child." While she and Zara spoke, Doctor Bailo
calculated Zara's expected due date, as well as how far
along she was. She had not gotten far when she spotted
Melickielickie standing right beside her, staring at the
tool she was using. "Wowie wow." The little Squib
"Ugh. Ugh. Ugh," Ewwiekewwieikkie could be heard
groaning as she waddles out into the garden. Her yellow
eyes were wider than ever as she had gone to town eating
all of the cakes that the nanny droid brought her, her
sister, and her cousin. She was expecting just to see
Marcus and Zara, but when she saw the two doctors she
got extra excited. "You're here?! You're everywhere!"
she declared, as she had seen Pilaq and Alessandra on
Delaya, New Alderaan, and Esseles. She wondered if they
were following her. Fearing that they were going to
scold her for not eating healthy she had an idea. She
began waddling into the garden and started eating
flowers. "Yucky! Uh. I mean. Yummy!" she said, as she
frowned, chewing the disgustingly flavored flowers.
"See. I eat healthy," she told them, before falling down
on her butt and rubbing her overfull tummy.
"...And you just left them here with Marcus and
Zara?" Sierra Rodney asked El-Nay Darr as they searched
through the castle for the girls. The kitchen had been
the first place they searched for Sierra's adopted
daughters. The kitchen was Squib-free, but the smell of
freshly baked cakes lingered in the air. "They were
here." Sierra determined, pointing out some stray blue
hairs on the ground which could be found absolutely
everywhere in the castle at this point. "But where did
they go? It seems inhumane, but sometimes I wonder if I
should put a tracker on those girls. Maybe a bracelet
that also functions as a tracker." She suggested,
continuing to search. The sooner she found her girls,
the sooner they left for Esseles.
Callista Nilar came wandering out into the garden
clutching her tummy. She was shocked to see Doctor Tohan
in the castle. "*Doctor*"! She squeaked. With a burst of
energy, she ran towards the old doctor and hugged him.
"Doctor Tohan! I missed you soooooooooo much!" When she
lifted her head from him, there was frosting caked on
her cheeks, chin, and somehow it was in her hair.
"Auntie Zara made us a bunch of cakes. It was yummy!" As
she told him, she began to bounce.
"Well, I, uh, there were so many Squibs," El-Nay Darr
began, stammering, trying to explain what happened. "We
were just sitting in Auntie Mae's when the King arrived
with an army and your niece and began ransacking the
city. I think I even saw a Gungan," she told Sierra, as
she tried to explain what happened. "Marc- the Duke and
Duchess invited us to the castle and Zara allowed me to
rest up after what happened," she said, scrambling as
she tried to find the words. She stopped, exhaling
beneath her distinct orange helmet, before letting her
head fall in defeat. "I apologize, milady. I never
should have left them. You should rest. I *will* find
them," she vowed, as she begged forgiveness of the woman
to whom she owed a life debt.
"Callista! Callista what are you doing here? We just
left your house," Pilaq told her, as he returned her hug
with his frail arms. "I was planting you a garden, but I
was told you were on a diplomatic mission," he told her,
sounding confused, as he thought her parents were using
a euphemism. As he looked to Ewwiekewwieikkie in the
garden and Callista, still covered in frosting, he
raised his finger at Zara and began to chastise her. "Do
these children eat anything but sweets?" he asked her,
as he lowered his large, hammerhead and shook it.
The nanny droid was passing by when she heard the
doctor's comment. "I told you so, Duchess Zara," she
shot in the direction of Zara, as she arrived with
Darrus and Sia. She found it a wonderful thing to have
so many children back in the castle. It reminded her of
the old days with so many of Germanicus and Ranei's
children running about these corridors back when they
were brand new.
"El-Nay... You know that story doesn't sound real,
right?" Sierra laughed softly. By the damage in the city
and the ice cream shortage, she was sure it was true.
"Don't worry. We'll find them. Look, there's a trail." A
trail of frosting footprints lead out to the garden. "Do
you think it would be possible for me to squeeze into
your armor?" She asked the Mandalorian. "After what we
saw at the trial... I have so many questions. The only
person who can answer those questions is Jelena. I want
to go to see her, despite how dangerous it is." Her
forehead knotted with worry. She was still processing
the contents of the video.
"You planted me a garden?!" Callista gasped. "Awwww!
Thank you, Doctor!! I'll water the flowers every day!"
She hugged Pilaq again. "Big bantha hug! Rawwwrr!" The
little girl gave him the tightest squeeze she could
manage. "Are you gonna come home with me? I've never had
a garden before. Will you teach me?" She didn't know she
had gotten her aunt in trouble.
Zara crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Nu uh.
You can't *both* team up on me. It's my job, as aunt to
give the girls treats. It's their mommy's job to make
sure they are eating a balanced diet. Oh, look! There
she is now!" Zara pointed a finger towards Sierra as she
appeared in the garden. "It's *her* fault that they are
addicted to sweets. Go on! Team up on her!"
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney had been forced into his
modified bounty hunter armor again. He was in his
childhood home, which was by rights his, but he could
not even show his face. He wanted to collect the
children and return to Esseles, but *of course* El-Nay
had misplaced them. He was furious, but he was not able
to say a word, lest he be recognized. When he arrived in
the garden to his surprise he saw just about everyone.
There was Marcus and Zara, Pilaq and Alessandra,
Ewwiekewwieikkie, Melickielickie, the nanny droid, and
for some reason ... Callista. With the presence of the
doctors he worried that someone might be injured or
sick, but he could not ask what was going on.
"I swear it's true, milady," El-Nay replied, as she
arrived at the garden with her. "There they are!" she
said, as she spotted the children. "And there's Callista.
I'm sorry, Ambassador Callista," she added, as she tried
to place all of the blame on a five-year-old. She was
never happy about an 'auretii', or outsider, wearing her
armor, but she owed Sierra a debt, and she had lost the
children. "Of course, milady," she said obediently, as
she really was in no position to say no. Internally she
was conflicted, and she knew that if Sierra were wearing
her armor it also meant that she would not be going on
the trip to protect her. "I suppose you'll need my ship
too," she added, quietly, so that the others would not
hear what was afoot.
The members of the family, minus the bastard, were
all in the garden. Sierra's eyes briefly flickered
towards her disguised husband. She felt her hate for
Papius Arundel boil. She wanted him to be included too.
Sierra nodded her head to El-Nay's statement. "Yes. I
cannot leave immediately. I need to formulate a better
plan before I run off to see Jelena." Maybe she should
send El-Nay in her place to collect Jelena and bring her
to Esseles for some family time. She sighed. If only
Julius and Livia had never brought her to the
"Doctor Tohan? Doctor Bailo?!" Sierra was surprised
to see them too. "What's going on? Is everyone okay?"
She voiced the question Claudius was not able to.
Zara was up and to Sierra in a heartbeat. "Sister!
Hi!" She gave Sierra a quick hug. "Who's this?" She
said, standing in front of Claudius. "El-Nay, is this
your boyfriend? I thought something was going on between
you and that other lady. . ." She couldn't quite
remember the Clawdite's name. Her sister's question made
her redirect her attention. "Oh! Everyone is *great*!
Marcus and I are going to have another baby!" Zara
reported, "..or two." She said under her breath, hoping
her ovaries would gift her with a single baby pregnancy.
"Doctor Bailo and Doctor Tohan came to confirm it. You
would never believe what happened! Ewwiekewwieikkie
smelled it out! She even gave me back my ice cream for
the baby." Zara was already glowing. She was very happy.
"Daddeeee?" Melickielickie sniffed at the air. "Mommeee?!
Dadddeee!?" She looked at Sierra, then to the man
wearing funny clothing behind her. Melickielickie's
attention was only for her father, who she darted
straight forward to. Her small body collided with his
legs. "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" She nuzzled her head
El-Nay was certainly glad she was wearing a helmet,
because the look on her face when Zara teased her about
Kerrie was one of anguish and pain. Beneath her helmet
she let out a sigh, turning her attention around the
crowd that was surging. "He's not my boyfriend," she
muttered, as she looked toward the castle rather than
the individuals in the garden. As to Kerrie, she said
nothing, but moved as far away from the group as she
could while still being able to protect Sierra if need
Claudius was shocked when Zara revealed she was pregnant
again. He wondered if there was something in the water
that was causing all of these pregnancies. "Milady, we
should collect the children and retire," he said to his
wife, as it was painful for him to remain here in
disguise. He was tired, still overwhelmed from the
trial, and wanted to get back to Esseles. But, before
any of that could happen the one thing he did not plan
on happened ... Melickielickie. When she hugged him
excitedly, he moved his hand to gently pat her on the
back so her feelings would not be hurt, but he was
hesitant to fully embrace her. They had some 'splainin'
"No!" Sierra snapped at the accusation that Claudius
and El-Nay ever could be a thing. Her face turned red.
"Um, congratulations, Zara. I'm happy for both of you."
Sierra sounded distracted. With a nod of her head, she
briefly rested her hand on Claudius'. "Yes, yes. You're
right. It's been a long trip. I want to go home."
Between the gesture of affection from Sierra, and
Melickie's happy huggles, the identity of the man in the
armor was becoming more and more obvious. "We need to
go." She said to Claudius anxiously as she bent down to
scoop up her youngest Squib adoptive daughter into her
arms. "We're going home now, Melickielickie.
Ewwiekewwieikkie, I think I saw some Wookiee Cookies on
"Daddyyyy!" Melickielickie insisted in her mother's
arms. She reached her paws out for the armored man. As
soon as her mother was close enough, she transferred
over into his arms. She pressed her head against his
chest plate. "What's this? It hard. It funky." She
knocked on it. "Is it food? I eat this, yes?"
Claudius took hold of Melickielickie still uncertain
of what to do. He cradled the young Squib in his arms,
who then began to attempt to eat his armor. "We *really*
need to go, milady," he said to Sierra, as he started
towards the door. "Shh, Melickielickie," he said, trying
to get her to calm down. "There's candy on the shuttle,"
he told her, wondering how much the others picked up on
what was going on. He did not mind anyone there knowing,
but it was always possible Governor Arundel had sent up
monitoring devices ... particularly now that he was in
league with Colonel Zevrin.
"Okay. We go now!" Ewwiekewwieikkie declared before
moving towards Marcus to give him hugs and kisses. Then
she moved to Zara to give her hugs and kisses. Then she
went on to Doctor Tohan to give him hugs and kisses.
Then she went on to Doctor Bailo to give him hugs and
kisses. Then she went on to the nanny droid, who she had
never met before, to give it hugs and kisses. And
finally she went to Callista to give her hugs and
kisses. She was exhausted from all the hugs and kisses.
"Woosh," she said, as she brought her arm up to her
forehead and exhaled in a dramatic sigh. "Family too
big. Stop with the babies," she complained, before
trying to catch up to Claudius and Sierra.
"Oooo! Candy!" Melickielickie stopped gnawing at the
armor. It hurt her teeth and felt funny on her mouth.
"This is fun!" She enjoyed being held and likely would
have spent all day in her father's arms if it were
allowed. "Baiii baii!" She called out to all of her new
friends and family. "Hurry, sissy! Hurry!"
"I wish that they got that excited about broccoli."
Sierra admitted. They quickly scurried back up to the
top of the castle where the Kwai shuttle awaited them.
She hustled everyone inside quickly then made her way to
the cockpit. "That was too close." She commented to
Claudius. Once Sierra was sure that El-Nay was also
aboard the ship, she didn't hesitate in taking off. She
focused herself on safely piloting her family from
Delaya back to Esseles.
As Claudius neared the shuttle carrying
Melickielickie he noticed that an Auntie Mae's speeder
truck was present and they were unloading the components
of a kiosk that was to be set up in the castle. "Please
don't let the girls see. Please don't let the girls see.
Please don't let the girls see," he began quietly
praying to himself, as he hurried aboard the shuttle. As
soon as they were on board he hit the button to raise
the ramp. "Ok. Melickielickie, Ewwiekewwieikkie, El-Nay
... that's everyone," he said, with relief as he got
everyone aboard. He removed his helmet and then
painfully took his chest plate off. "Not food," he told
the Squibs, before he moved towards the cockpit to sit
in the co-pilot's seat. "Sierra, take me home," he said,
with some sorrow in his voice. Home was no longer this
ancient castle. Home was with his family wherever they
were. He reached across the center console to place his
hand upon her thigh, giving it a reassuring squeeze that
was more for him than her.
It had been incredibly difficult to calm both Squibs
into falling asleep that night. The girls had been
overly excited from their trip. Sierra had heard both
girls recount their tales in their various ways. They
had somehow talked Sierra into reading five different
Rainbow Rancor stories, singing three songs, and
engaging in a gentle pounce party. Thanks to a recording
of Meham'ohorovi'cloca's last tactical meeting, Sierra
had Bruce out in no time. "Goodnight, my little prince."
She said to their son as she tucked the boy into his
bassinet. The recording continued to play on a loop to
ensure the boy fell into a deep sleep before stopping.
"Oh my goodness, what a day." Sierra unbuttoned the
collar of her tunic and began to take it off. "Let's
take a bath and unwind." She suggested, tossing her
tunic into the hamper. She did not wait for an answer.
Instead, she turned her back and headed into the
bathroom. Thankfully, no one was attempting to flush
"That sounds like a lovely idea. I need to get the
stench of that armor and bubble gum off me," Claudius
said, not understanding how the armor came to smell like
that. "So are you and Zara having a competition as to
who get get pregnant the most?" he teased her, surprised
with the news that the family was growing by leaps and
bounds. "Someone should warn Iyah," he said, with a
laugh, as he moved into the refresher to get the bath
prepared. As the water began to fill he was content to
be the first into the tub and begin to relax. So much
had happened and soon his forces would be engaged in
Drusilla opened the door to her room, crept down the
hall, and popped into her parent's room. She approached
the bassinet, looking down at her baby brother for the
first time. "I could have watched you, you know. I'm old
enough," she said, which was enough to wake him up. "So
you're the boy daddy wanted so badly. That my mom died
trying to give him," she said, before reaching in and
taking hold of him, causing him to stir. "Well. You're
kind of cute," she said, begrudgingly, as she looked
down at his face, his blonde, and the nerf embellishment
on his jumper.
Sierra continued to undress along her way to the
refresher. She laughed, acting offended. "You know, last
time I looked at your family tree, you didn't exactly
have a small family. I'm an only child! That doesn't
come from the Dakkar side. I think you and Marcus are
competing. Tsk, tsk. Least you could do is tell me."
Sierra paused at the mirror to undo her hair. She
snickered. "I should, because she married a Rodney and
no Rodney male can keep his hands to himself." Sierra
turned around, nude and ready for a nice, long bath. She
was smiling brightly. The news of her pregnancy made her
very happy. It took two to tango, after all. She began
to settle in the bath. She was unaware that they were no
longer alone ... for now.
Inside of the bassinet, Bruce was lying asleep. He
had already kicked off the blanket his mother had
covered him with. The boy slowly stirred to the sound of
someone's voice. His eyes opened, now rapidly turning
from baby blue to brown. The sight of his sister made
him smile brightly and let out a squeal of delight. He
reached his arms out towards her and wiggled in his
bassinet, silently beckoning her to pick him up.
"We need to win this next battle," Claudius reminded
Sierra, as with all the setbacks lately they needed one
positive to cling to. "Nevermind. Forget I even brought
it up. I don't want to even hear about it," he said, as
he allowed himself to slip into the water and allow the
warm liquid to sooth not just his body, but his soul as
well. "I am sorry that we were not able to see Gaius put
to death, and that Arundel and Zevrin outmaneuvered us,"
he reminded her, unable to stop himself. "No. Don't
mention that either," he said, as he moved forward to
embrace her, laying his head on his shoulder and trying
to just forget.
"Don't make any noise," Drusilla said to Bruce, as
she moved to sit down with him in the chair by the
window. As she looked down at him she tried to
understand why the family valued him more than her. Why
it was so important to her grandparents. Why her mother
gave her life in pursuit of one. She studied the
features of his face. His burgeoning blonde locks.
Nothing she saw looked better than her. It was a
terrible thing that her life resulted in her mother's
death, and not a day went by when it did not weigh on
her. She brought her hand to her brother's head, gently
caressing his hair and head. "Just so we're clear. I'm
you're *older* sister so I'm the boss," she informed
him, laying the groundwork early.
Though Bruce was very young, his attention span
seemed much greater than his age. He was intent on
listening to Drusilla, and much happier once he had been
picked up from his bassinet. In kicking off his
blankets, the boy had gotten cold. Now there was a warm
human for him to cuddle. He could say nothing to her,
but it seemed like they had reached an understanding.
Sierra opened her mouth to make a comment on the next
battle on Brentaal IV, then stopped herself. She opened
her mouth again as he brought up the situation on Delaya.
Again, she fell silent. Instead of answering him, she
wrapped her arms around Claudius. Her chin rested on top
of his head. "Relax. I'm going to be at your side for
all of it, even as we stand at the holotank attempting
to not fall asleep at Meham'ohorovi'cloca's voice. I'll
especially be there when we take a nap afterwards."
Sierra was only half-kidding about the last part. Her
head lifted from his suddenly. "Did you hear that?" She
asked him. "I thought I heard Bruce.. Or a Squib. Did I
lock the door?" She was pulled from her relaxation while
she worried that Ewwiekewwieikkie would see something
she shouldn't see. "Oh, let me go check." She groaned,
slowly untangling their limbs. Once she was out of the
shower, she slid into her robe. Sierra only made it to
the entryway to the refresher when she stopped. In the
sitting area of their room, she spotted Drusilla and
Bruce having a moment...their first moment. She bit her
lip. Awww! From ten feet away, she could see how happy
Bruce looked at his sister. Sierra thought about
interrupting the moment then decided not to. It was too
perfect for her to disturb it.
Slowly, she crept back into the bathroom, removed the
robe, and settled into the bath. "Drusilla is out there
holding Bruce." She whispered. "Neither one of them
Claudius was just getting comfortable snuggling
against his wife in the soothing bath water when a noise
startled her and prompted her to go and check. As Bruce
was her first biological child it was understandable
that she was overprotected and needed to check, but he
had been through this twice before and assumed
everything was alright. However, when she returned and
informed him that Drusilla was with Bruce he found
himself incredibly surprised. "She's ... she's out of
her room?" he asked, as he expected herself to hole up
inside of there for the remainder of her days. "Well.
That's good..." he said, cautiously, as he was used to
Drusilla always having an ulterior motive, but as this
was happening in private there did seem to be some
sincerity behind it.
"They are sitting together. I couldn't hear what she
was saying, but she was talking to him for sure." Sierra
glanced towards the door. She had never thought that
Drusilla was capable of holding a baby. She tried to
resume cuddling in that comfortable position while they
spoke. "I've been thinking about her a lot. Dru closed
us off so much since the whole Pollix ordeal. I
certainly haven't been putting the kind of effort in our
relationship that I could be. I want to improve things.
I want her to feel like she can come talk to me. She's
never really had the chance to have a mother. I'd like
to change that." She confessed to him, showcasing where
her own weaknesses were. "I love her too."
Claudius needed his cuddles, and as the conversation
turned to his youngest daughter and most troubled child
he was not sure of what to do. "It is a dangerous
journey reaching Drusilla," he confided in her, wishing
he had been a better father to her. "Millennia ago
before intergalactic travel when the people of Alderaan
were living in simple structures and exploring their
world was as difficult as venturing into the Unknown
Regions was to us they did their best to created limited
maps of the planet," he began telling her, on a
seemingly unrelated story that might have gave her a
moment's pause that he had cracked or had early onset
dementia. "These maps were some of the greatest
treasures in the archives of the University of Alderaan
before the Rebellion destroyed the planet," he
continued, still sounding as if he was rambling on. "Not
knowing what was beyond the edge of the map they wrote a
cryptic, naive warning ... 'there be dragons'," he said
to her, before lifting his head off her and looked at
her seriously. He leaned out of the tub and pointed
towards the room with Drusilla. "There be dragons," he
reminded her, before moving his face back towards her to
share a kiss with her.